31 December 2013

Review: 2013

I honestly cannot believe it's New Years Eve and 2014 is just hours away! I know I say it every year but each year feels as though it goes quicker than the last! I'll be posting my New Years Resolutions tomorrow but in the mean time I thought I'd take a look back at 2013, and what a year it was, if not for all the right reasons!

In no particular order.. 

Top Row (L-to-R): my first cover shoot (as assistant) was published; I had a great result at Cheltenham;  I went to see One Direction; I met a childhood hero; I attempted to learn to selfie!

Second Row: Another trip to Wembley with Chelsea; there to support Kala when she ran the marathon; two of my close friends got married; another wedding pic; Frank Lampard made Chelsea history.

Third Row: I played polo with work; I actually rode the horse; Paolo Ferreira and I bowed out of Chelsea on the same day; Ladies Day at Ascot; reunited with old friends.

Fourth Row: I visited Hull for Luke Campbell's pro debut; Milan stole my heart; I made a friend for life; I turned 23; I wouldn't stop celebrating my birthday.

Fifth Row: Booked an amazing holiday; said 'yes' to more events; finally returned to my second home; my first ever trip to Twickenham; ending the year with good friends and better memories.

I honestly couldn't have imagined where 2013 would take me when it began, I closed a lot of doors this year: on people, on opportunities and on myself but I opened just as many; I've met some incredible people and made some wonderful memories and that is the main thing I will take into the New Year with me.

Happy New Year!

Vicky x

30 December 2013

2013 in Outfits

This is quite a self-indulgent post but I wanted to compile my favourite outfits of the year to look back on. I really feel as though I've found my feet in terms of my own style this year and I've worn some outfits that I have really loved and want to share with you (again!).

Dress - Savida at Dunnes Stores 
Shoes - Zara

When I think about things I've worn this year, this dress jumps straight out at me. I picked it up in Dublin nearly two years ago and I'd been waiting for the right moment to wear it. I love how detailed and intricate the beading is on this dress and I'm still amazed that I managed to get through a three-course meal without getting anything down me! 

Dress - Coast

The Coast dress I wore to Ascot really stole my heart this year, it was the perfect Princess dress. From the colour to the cut to the full skirt and absolutely perfect dealing and subtle pleats, this dress was the star of the show for me. If I could wear it all day every day I would. It was longer than I would usually go for but it suited the occasion perfectly and I wouldn't hesitate about wearing this style again, in fact I can't wait for the opportunity to do so!

Dress - 3 Floor

I picked up this dress for my birthday and I absolutely loved it. It was a real head turner and so many people commented on it and asked where it was from which was lovely. The only downside is I had a very bitter dispute with the company over another item later in the year and I will never buy from them again. If you're looking for this dress, I suggest House of Catherine - they stock the same dress at a much lower price.

Dress - Gorgeous Couture

Another birthday dress. I rented this one from Girl Meets Dress and I cannot recommend the experience enough. The dress was absolutely sensational, I felt incredible wearing it. The process of hiring was so simple and the customer service was impeccable. I will definitely be ordering from them again.

Top - Topshop
Jeans - Topshop
Shoes - Zara

I wore this on a summers night in Hull for the boxing and the reason it stands out for me is because it's so simple yet chic. I very rarely wear jeans but when you're going to an outdoor boxing show, you can't exactly turn up in a ball gown or a sequin mini dress (despite what some people think!) so this was a safe bet and actually reignited my love for dressing down a bit more!

Dress - Warehouse

An oldie but a goody! I bought this dress two years ago for my 21st birthday and it's had a few outings this year. The cut and the colour are both very me, it has a great shape to it and it's incredibly flattering. It's a go-to dress for when I want to look put together but not overdone.

Without even realising I moved away from my typical uniform of all black and added some colour, along with some classic cuts and beautiful detailing and I plan on doing the same in 2014.

What were your favourite outfits of 2013? 

Vicky x


29 December 2013

Erin Condren Life Planner 2014!

As you may know I am obsessed with organisation and planning and a new year inevitably means a new diary. For 2014 I decided to step away from my trusty Filofax planner and order an Erin Condren Life Planner. I spent a while researching the Life Planners on blogs and YouTube before eventually biting the bullet and ordering my own and I am so excited to be sharing it with you.

This will be quite a long post but it's such a bespoke service and it is quite an expensive purchase so I thought it would be best to include as much detail as possible.

Once I actually start writing in it in January (my family believe it's bad luck to write in a new diary or on a new calendar before the new year begins - do you have any odd family superstitions?) I'll do an updated post to show you how I'm organising it.

I ordered my Life Planner on Monday 21st October with an expected shipping date of Wednesday 30th October and my planner arrived on Tuesday 5th November at midday which I was SO impressed with. I loved tracking it and seeing all of the different places it went through - sad but true!

The planner comes beautifully packaged, even the box it's shipped in is decorated with teal and pink paisley print and the planner itself comes wrapped in two different types of bubble wrap and then tissue paper, secured with the trademark Erin Condren 'Enjoy!" sticker.

There are numerous different styles to choose from, all of which you can personalise and truly make your own. I opted for the 'collage' planner and personalised mine with some of my favourite pictures from 2013. You can personalise the front and back, I completely personalised the front but I only included three pictures on the back as I'll be spending less time looking at it. 

The beauty of the collage planner is that you can upload your pictures directly from Instagram, Facebook or your computer which saves a lot of time. I uploaded all of mine from Instagram and the quality is fantastic. I was concerned that they wouldn't print very well as they were Instagram photos but I needn't have worried as you'd never know they were Instagram pictures.

You can also add text, I opted to have my name (I've removed my surname from the photos) and "live, laugh, love" which is beyond cliche but there's nothing wrong with reinforcing the idea.

The planner comes with a snap-in ruler/page marker which I think I'm likely to keep in the plastic wallet (more later!) and is bound by a thick aluminium coil which s very sturdy and won't bend if you put it in your bag.

The first page is beautifully patterned and is emblazoned with the quote above. Inspiring quotes are present throughout the planner, they cover each month and they're a really nice touch. I like the concept of the 'Thought a Day" diaries so for me this is the best of both worlds. 

Each section has laminated tabs as dividers and the first opens up to reveal pages dedicated to Birthdays  and Anniversaries, there is a column for each month to allow you to write all birthdays and anniversaries at the front so you have them all in one place. This is really helpful for me, I'm usually pretty good with birthdays but being able to look them all up here is a bonus.

The next pages are dedicated to year at a glance calendars. I use these quite a lot at work and I'll be referring back to this one quite a bit for certain dates and events.

Each month starts with a month at a glance. I'll be putting birthdays and key dates and events here as well as on the day of the event/birthday. This is a great way to see what plans you have and when and helps to avoid double booking - when you just use day pages it's hard to see the bigger picture so this is a really helpful way of keeping track of everything. 

The notes section down the side is a nice touch, I'm not certain what I'll be putting there yet (maybe shopping lists?) but I'm sure I'll find a use for it. If you have any suggestions, leave them below.

You have a week across two pages with each day divided in to three: morning, day and night. I quite like having everything structured and chronological so this was a big plus for me as it's easier for me personally to organise myself. 

The weekly pages have a "goals and to-do" section running along the side much like the notes section on the month at a glade and underneath each day there's space to make additional daily to-do lists, exercise routines, meal plans etc., I'm not sure what I'll be putting here either as I don't plan my meals but again, I'm sure I'll think of something!

At the end of the planner there are 20 page blank and lined note pads. You can also buy additional pads to stick in to your planner but I think this will be more than sufficient for me as I tend to carry a note book around with me anyway although I'm interested to see how I will get on having two in one.

The 'contacts' section has a place to put all of your details and contacts. I'm probably not going to fill this in just in case anything happens to my planner, it would be a disaster! I keep all of that information elsewhere anyway so it's not something I'll be using. 

Now for something that really set this planner apart for me: stickers. I know, I know, I'm easily pleased! The planner comes with pre-printed stickers for birthdays and other events and appointments (mani/pedi, doctors, game and so on) as well as blank stickers for colour coding (I LOVE colour coding!). You can also order your own personalised stickers which I opted to do so that I could have things like Bank Holiday, phone bill, oyster card and so forth easily marked out.

My personalised stickers came tucked in to this two-sided document pouch which is right near the back of the planner and is a great idea. I'll be keeping my stickers in there to keep everything together.

The plastic wallet is one of my favourite parts of the planner. It closes like a sandwich bag and contains some name labels and some little appointment cards which is a really nice touch, especially if you have forgetful friends.

The planner finishes with year at a glance calendars for the next two years - a scary thought!!

Clockwise from top left: sample pack of labels, labels, product catalogue, $10 gift card

In addition to my Life Planner and personalised stickers, a sample label pack was also included, perfect for sticking on a bottle of wine (last minute gifts are always winners and with my friends, you'll never go wrong with rose!) and a catalogue of products which included a $10 gift card, all of which was a lovely gesture.

I'm so pleased with my planner and I can't wait to start using it, if you're buying from overseas it can look pricey but once you allow for the currency conversion I think mine came to around £60 including shipping which I think is really reasonable, especially given how quickly the planner arrived.

Erin Condren Life Planner 2014 (12 months) - $50
Extra stickers - $5 each
Express shipping $49.50

For me, being organised is one of the easiest ways to have peace of mind. A colleague once said to me that it's important to write things down as it takes away the anxiety of having to remember them and I couldn't agree more. On top of that, I don't like uncertain plans, I need to know what I'm doing and when so anything that makes me even more organised is a huge benefit for me personally.

Have you picked up a diary or planner for 2014? How easy do you find it to stay organised?

Vicky x

11 December 2013

Restaurant Review | Breakfast at The Wolseley

Previously a car showroom and a bank, The Wolseley was transformed into one of the best restaurants in London in 2003 and has won numerous awards and plaudits during the ten years its been open, including twice being honoured with the title of Best Breakfast by The Observer.

Situated on Piccadilly and next door to The Ritz, The Wolseley combines stunning architecture with beautiful decoration, incorporating many of the features from its days as a bank. Everything about The Wolseley says grandeur, from the high painted ceilings to the monogrammed plates, the excellent and attentive waiting service and the sublime food any visit feels like a real treat.

I popped in for breakfast a few weeks ago with my friends David and Steve en-route to the rugby at Twickenham. We had initially planned a trip to The Breakfast Club in Soho but the queues were unreal so we took a trip to The Wolseley on the off chance we would get a table. Not only is it a hugely popular restaurant but it's right in the heart of London so spaces are incredibly limited unless you've booked in advance. We were fortunate enough to secure a table for two hours as soon as we arrived, shortly after that every table was full and people were being ushered in to the bar to wait for an available space.

Despite the Eggs Benedict being one of the best known and loved dishes on the menu, we all opted for The English breakfast. £16.50 of pure food joy.

With a choice of eggs with sausage, bacon, beans, tomato, mushroom and black pudding I opted for a side of toast and a pot of English Breakfast Tea and it was delightful. It is pricey for a full English, even by Central London standards but the food is wonderful. Fresh and cooked to perfection, it's almost impossible to find fault with it. 

There's a strict no flash or intrusive photography policy at The Wolseley so unfortunately I was unable to capture what a truly wonderful place it is.

Breakfast at The Wolseley really is something to experience if you're in London and looking for excellent quality food at a wonderful venue then look no further. I can fully recommend the pastry basket as well as the french toast, pancakes and boiled eggs with soldiers. 

The service is faultless, the waiting staff are incredibly attentive without being intrusive, you literally wait and want for nothing. There's a 12.5% service charge on each bill and it's completely warranted in my opinion.

Have you ever been to The Wolseley? Where are your favourite places for breakfast? 

Vicky x


8 December 2013

Lifestyle | Christmas Tag

I absolutely adore Christmas, only this week my colleagues commented it was like sharing an office with Buddy the Elf, and despite not feeling particularly festive for the past few years I am fully embracing the Christmas spirit this year and what better way to share it than with this tag that I saw on the lovely Sian's blog. I fully recommend checking hers out, the answers and pictures she picked are gorgeous!

1. What's your favourite Christmas movie?
Home Alone would definitely be up there for me, I watch it every year without fail and I just love it. I love Elf and Love Actually too (my favourite Hugh Grant film) and I also find that the Christmas 24 channel have some lovely Christmas movies - they really know how to make a Christmas film in the US.

2. Do you stay in your PJs or get dressed on Christmas Day?
I stay in my PJs until around midday and then get changed, even at 23 we still do the "new clothes on Christmas day" tradition so I change into something new and festive for the rest of the day and then put new PJs on in the evening after dinner.

3. Do you open your presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day?
When I was little I used to be allowed to open one present on Christmas Eve but now everything is on Christmas Day. The older I get the later I'm starting to wake up so there's no mad rush in the morning any more but everything gets opened on Christmas Day unless it's a box of chocolates from our neighbour which I always demolish on Christmas Eve.

4. Favourite Christmas smell?
For me it's probably Christmas dinner or mulled wine which also happen to be two of my favourite Christmas things! I also love the smell of roasting chestnuts, particularly on a really cold night.

5. What is your favourite Christmas song?
Like Sian, mine is Fairytale of New York - it's guaranteed to get everyone singing along and I actually really love the words. Other than that you can't beat classics from the likes of Bing Crosby, they're Christmas perfection.

6. What's your favourite Christmas drink?
I like a good old fashioned mulled wine at a Christmas market or light switch on (I LOVE a light switch on!). When I was younger it used to be all about a Snowball and they always remind me of Christmas but nowadays I opt for a glass of white wine or a Bailey's hot chocolate. 

7. Favourite Christmas meal?
I love Christmas dinner of turkey and all the trimmings more than anything but the dinner we have on Boxing Day is hands down my favourite dinner of the entire year. We've always have boiled bacon (a tradition of my great-great-granny Murphy's!) and other meat with potatoes (mashed and new) and salads and it honestly is the best meal I eat all year - there's no day or meal I look forward to more all year!

8. Wrapping presents - love or loathe?
Loathe. There are few things I hate more than wrapping presents! For someone who loves all things creative I am completely incapable of turning out a nicely wrapped present. I always get the tape stuck to my fingers or the wrong part of the paper which then rips or I can't cut the right amount of paper so the present is either drowning in wrapping or barely concealed and do not even get me started on ribbon or bows! I resolve to buy boxes for everything one year and make a real effort to make everything look like it belongs in a Christmas film without uttering various words and phrases that are far from festive.

9. What's your favourite thing about Christmas?
The coming together of people whether they're family, friends, colleagues or the wider community. There's something about Christmas that really brings people together and it's such a blessing to be able to spend that time with people you truly care for as well as meeting new people. I love the family side of it, we're a close family and spend a lot of time together anyway but it always feels more precious at Christmas; I love socialising more with my friends and colleagues and also attending community events.

10. Christmas tree - real or fake?
We've always had a fake tree because of the dog as the needles drop and we would't want them to get stuck in his paws. We have a real tree at work though and it is my first experience of a real tree, I find a fake tree is a lot easier to maintain (it doesn't need watering for a start!) and seems more environmentally friendly.

11. Homemade cards or shop bought ones?
I would love to say homemade but I don't feel like I have the time these days so shop bought but I would love to send handmade cards.

12. What do you do on Christmas Eve?
For the last few years I've spent Christmas Eve wrapping my presents as I simply don't have the patience to do them before as they drive me insane as you'll already know!

13. Favourite Christmas memory?
I am fortunate enough to only have wonderful Christmas memories, particularly from when I was a child so it would be impossible to pick just one. Christmas as a child was just the best fun ever, I think my favourite ever present was my dolls house. It's still in our loft and I can't bring myself to get rid of it as it has so many wonderful memories attached.

14. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
I honestly don't remember the answer to this one so it can't have had much of an impact on me. I can still remember trying to listen out for the reindeer and sleigh bells when I was little so I must have believer at some point! I went to see Santa every Christmas which was always one of my favourite memories; I even bumped in to the old boy earlier this week and had a sit on his knee - I asked for Ryan Gosling and a puppy as I've been good ALL year.

15. Snow - love it or hate it?
I don't think I've ever known a white Christmas so I would love snow on Christmas Day! I love snow if I can just sit and watch it and don't have to go out in it but I hate it when it becomes all mushy and grey and then icy and bloody lethal, not to mention the fact it takes me nearly twice as long to get to work (if I'm lucky) and I have to take my life in my hands to do so because I live on a hill!

I'd love to know your answers to the above so leave me a link below if you do this tag so I can check it out! 

Vicky x

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